PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida’s Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn’t nearly finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.
A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category 4 monster packing 155 mph (250 kph) winds. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.
Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and according to WMAZ-TV, an 11-year-old girl was also killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia. Search and rescue crews were expected to escalate efforts to reach hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Thursday that the eye of Michael was about 90 miles (144 kilometers) northeast of Macon, Georgia and about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Augusta. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 mph (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 mph (33 kph). The core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning.
It will then move across portions of central and eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.
Moore County is under a Tropical Storm Warning since Wednesday. Forecasters say Moore County could see as much as 5 inches of rain.
The ground is still saturated in places from Hurricane Florence which means flash flooding and trees can topple more easily in high winds.
Conditions should improve on Friday.
This article was written with the help of the Associated Press.
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Photo via North Carolina Emergency Management.